Porno and Politics : Mapping America

Graphic from Gallop Poll.

Three of the five red Republican states top the list of states with the highest number of people who subscribe to online pornography sites.

By Larry Ray / The Rag Blog / March 8, 2009

Political party advantage shifted strongly toward the Democratic party in a large-sample Gallup poll released at the end of January, 2009. Gallup pollsters tell us, “One would have to go back to 1983, when Democrats held a decisive 19-point advantage in party identification (43% to 24%), to find a significantly better showing for the Democratic Party in any Gallup polling.”

The map above tells an interesting story. Solidly Democratic states are in light blue, dark blue indicates states leaning Democratic, the neutral gray states are considered “competitive,” the dark red state, Nebraska leans Republican, and the remaining four states are Solidly Republican.

Those few bright red states are also at the center of another study making headlines in today’s newspapers. Three of the five red Republican states top the list of states with the highest number of people who subscribe to online pornography sites. The study, “Red Light States: Who Buys Online Entertainment?” is the work of Harvard professor, Benjamin Edelman, Ph.D, whose scientific study from 2006 to 2008 utilized information from a top 10 seller of adult entertainment.

Mormon-dominated Utah tops the list as the number one state for porno surfing. Sarah Palin’s Alaska is a close second, followed in third place by Former Republican National Committee Chairman, Governor Haley Barbour’s Mississippi. Alaska and Mississippi also make the top of Gallup poll’s list of “highly religious” states.

There seems to be several reasons for the penchant for porno. Anonymity and ease of high speed broadband internet is one possibility. Census numbers indicate Utah and Alaska are in the top 10 in percentage of households with high-speed Internet access, but Mississippi ranks near the bottom. Mississippi frequently ranks near or at the bottom of lists, but they make it almost to the top of this one. With a will there is a way.

I had to wonder what religion’s role may be in this commonality for lusty sexual voyeurism. Forbidden fruit versus God-given sexual drive? Could very conservative political views also be linked to these jarring findings? These outwardly very religious and Republican states have clearly repressed desires that even Rush Limbaugh can not satisfy. Is this an hypocrisy of horniness?

Pornography has deviled religion for a very long time. From Pompeii to Provo, the faithful who partake of varying versions of Debbie doing Dallas are condemned as sinners. The Southern Baptists never miss an opportunity to use even the very word pornography as an attack weapon.

Confirmation of Obama Department of Justice nominee David Ogden, whose previous representation of pornographers as an attorney, has pro-family religious groups up in arms. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told “Baptist Press” regarding Ogden’s defense. “… A person’s views on pornography are a window to a person’s worldview.”

So, using Brother Land’s reasoning, professional defense attorneys defending serial murderer, Jeffery Dahmer, would have held positive views on chopping up street hustlers if we looked into their worldview window. Actually, Brother Land has other real world worries right outside his window.

“The Christian Post” reports. “Half of males who apply to serve as a missionary for the Southern Baptist Convention’s international mission agency are turned down, according to a Baptist pastor. The primary reason is the use of internet porn.”

And right up there with internet porn is the way one prays. “The Christian Post” continues, “Both pornography and a private prayer language are treated as activities from which a person must repent in order to serve as a Southern Baptist missionary.”

It took a little research to get a handle on ‘private prayer language’ but it is Southern Baptist code-speak for glossolalia, the speaking in tongues when the holy spirit takes over some folks, like we have seen in the videos from Sarah Palin’s little church in Wasilla, Alaska.

As far as Utah’s Mormons topping the list of internet porno subscribers, there are some real conflicts going on there. Pillars of the Mormon Church and top tithers, the Marriott hotel family, are an example of that conflict. In 2007, “Morality in Media” blasted then CEO Bill Marriott for their in-room pay-TV “Adults Only” offerings like “XXX Fantasies” and “Sophomore Sluts” which reportedly produce hundreds of millions of dollars yearly for the hotel chain.

Nonetheless, all the Marriott family hotel magnates are listed as “Famous Mormons in Business” by the church. Time Magazine declared in their cover story on Mormons, “The church’s material triumphs rival even its evangelical advances.

Whether Mitt Romney, Glen Beck and Orrin Hatch’s magic underwear acts as a Mormon porno shield, I just won’t hazard a guess. However, sanctimonious, bible thumping right wing conservatives pietists who rail against godless, irresponsible liberals day and night on cable TV would better first lecture their own.

[Retired journalist Larry Ray is a Texas native and former Austin television news anchor. He also posts at The iHandbill.]

The Rag Blog

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2 Responses to Porno and Politics : Mapping America

  1. Vigilante says:

    Excellent. Linking this to a 3rd party.

  2. K McKiernan says:

    Good question: “I had to wonder what religion’s role may be in this commonality for lusty sexual voyeurism. Forbidden fruit versus God-given sexual drive? “

    For me, I think the answer is that of gender roles, distinctions, and the desire/need to dominate. Religion prescribes male dominion and no where is there a more present reminder of man “sticking it to woman” than in pornography.

    Sure, its also about sexual repression, its about the vicious cycle of shame and guilt, and its also about economic depression (make yourself feel better via feeling superior to others) etc, but at its core, deep down where most are not even aware (and those who are–particularly scary bunch), pornography is about reifying one’s maleness in a world that feels confusing, irritating and emasculating to many men.

    Interesting post!

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